Measuring the Results of Word of Mouth Marketing

If there is one thing that is always true about word of mouth marketing, it’s that it’s never easy to accurately track the direct results of it.

Short of wiring all your customers with microphones and cameras, there’s just no way of knowing exactly what they say to their friends about your product or service.

This is precisely why many companies decide to not focus actively on word of mouth promotion – it’s just not that easy to prove that they will get a good return on their investment.

There are, however, a couple of methods that can help paint a picture of the effectiveness of a particular campaign (or, how much word of mouth activity there is around a brand in general):

Using social media

With the introduction of social media, it has become much easier to keep tabs on what people are saying about a brand. There are in fact many software tools designed for just this purpose. While looking at people’s public conversations about a brand may not give the full picture, it is still one of the best ways to gauge interest and measure the results of a word of mouth marketing campaign.

The main issue with relying on social media statistics is that, according to surveys, only 10% of word of mouth activity takes place online. It’s still mostly about offline conversations (75%) and phone calls (15%). Still, it’s easy enough to do and usually doesn’t cost much so this is often the first step taken.

Using surveys

Another popular method of gauging interest and word of mouth activity around a brand is by using surveys. By simply asking customers what they think of the brand, and whether they have recommended it to their friends, it’s possible to get a decent idea about how a campaign is going.

Usually it’s a good idea to reward users for answering the survey, as it may otherwise be difficult to motivate them. Unfortunately, that often prohibits them from being completely anonymous, which could lead to slightly skewed results (they may not want to say anything bad about the brand, knowing their answer will be associated with them personally).

Using referral programs

There’s no doubt that referral programs can be very powerful motivators to spur word of mouth activity, but another advantage they have is that usually they’re easy to track the results from. Since the customer who refers one of his/her friends needs to be rewarded for the referral, it goes without saying that tracking these types of campaigns is easy.

However, this method of measuring results is obviously limited in that it can only show the results from this particular referral program campaign. It is therefore quite useless as a tool for measuring word of mouth activity around a brand as a whole.

These were just a few of the most popular methods available to track results from a word of mouth marketing campaign. Every company or brand will have to come up with their own tailor-made solution that suits their strategy, but using these will certainly be a good start.


Ideas to use Mobile Technology for Word of Mouth Marketing

Since most people are carrying their phones with them at all times, it makes sense to try to utilize this for word of mouth marketing purposes. There are a few ways in which mobile technology can be a great help in increasing word of mouth activity around a business or brand:

Text messages

Text messaging may be a basic technology, but one that can work very well in word of mouth marketing. Just as with e-mail marketing, the idea here is to sending messages to users that they are likely to forward to their friends. The contents could be anything, and will vary depending on what the business does, but one idea would be coupons and time limited offers.

If the business has a “refer a friend” program, this could also be implemented using text messages. An example would be hosting a form on the website where they can enter the phone number of a friend, then having a customized referral message sent out. In this case it is important to take steps to ensure that the feature cannot be used for spamming – for example it could be limited to 1 message per day and only registered customers would be allowed to use it.

In-app sharing

Almost everyone has a smartphone these days, and it seems like almost every website and business out there has their own app too. The upsides are many, of course, one of which is the ability to easily and instantly share things from the app with the user’s friends. Again, coupons and limited deals are perfect for this. Say you’re scrolling through the app for a popular web store, and come across a coupon for a certain product. Right away you think about your friend Mike who said he was in the market for that exact product – a couple of “clicks” later and he has the coupon code in his inbox. It’s important to make the sharing procedure as fast and effortless as possible, as users on smartphones generally have very little patience for slow apps.

Photo contests

A photo contest can be a great way to increase word of mouth activity around a brand. The basic idea would be holding a contest where the most fun/creative photo relating to the brand wins a prize. So how does this increase word of mouth activity? Well, one idea would be to require contestants to submit their photo through Twitter, thereby showing it to all of their followers (and potentially many more if it gets re-tweeted). A contest like this can blow up and generate a huge amount of buzz for a brand if well executed.

Just as with all other word of mouth marketing efforts, it’s important to experiment and not be afraid of doing something wrong. It pays to be careful with text messaging, however, as there are some laws and regulation in place for those. Otherwise it’s all fair game, and the worst that can happen is that the idea fails to gain any traction with users.

The Most Important Factors in Marketing with Stories

Last blog post I told you about the ways in which you can repurpose your marketing stories for maximum exposure and impact. It’s clear that you can start with any format for your story and repurpose it to another. But there are a few things that I believe are the most important factors in creating marketing stories that work.

This is true whether you are creating your brand’s story, your customer’s story, or your products or services story. No matter what angle you approach it from these factors are most important to adhere to. If you do these things, you can and will create marketing stories that get results

It’s Always About Your Audience — No matter which angle you are approaching your marketing story from, it’s really always about your audience, it’s never about you. Even when you are telling the story about how you started your business it’s about what you can do for your audience. Always.

Focus on Clarity — Instead of worrying too much about grammar, punctuation and proper sentence structure, instead focus on being clear with the words you use and their meaning. Words do mean something, ensure that you and your audience agree on their meaning and whatever you tell them will resonate.

Speak With Honesty — Whether writing, or conducting a speech you are speaking to your audience and it’s imperative that you are always straight with them. It takes a long time to build trust, but only a few seconds of doubt to ruin it. If you’re honest, your audience will know because telling your story honestly is so much easier than lying.

Be Yourself — No one can do you, the way you do you. It doesn’t matter what competition is out there you are still unique and have something to offer that no one else does. Yourself. If you pretend to be someone you’re not, it will be impossible to build a true relationship with your audience. They’ll know. Almost immediately.

Talk With Your Audience Not at Them — It’s important when you write copy for marketing with stories that you use a conversational tone, with real words, not buzzwords, or inaccurate and confusing terms. While writing, picture your audience of one, in your mind’s eye and simply tell them your story. For real.

Forget About Marketing — It’s tempting when marketing with stories to revert back to sales page tactics but remember, when you are marketing with stories you’re not writing a sales page, although you might use stories on a sales page, the story itself is different. The more you can share with your audience and be a resource to them the better.

As you share your own story, focused on your customers, and ask them for feedback and to share their stories, something really special will happen. You’ll build a strong relationship, one that will carry you forth as you create new products and services for a loyal customer base who will become storytellers for you on your behalf. Marketing with stories is that powerful.

Next week is my last blog post, I’ll go over what we’ve learned and give you some food for thought as you move forward on your journey to market with stories.